Tooling versus scale of productionJune 2 2012 at 8:54 AM
|Kelly (Login kcoffield)|
from IP address 18.104.22.168
Response to Very Nice Casting!
Having soft tooled about 50 parts myself using the techniques in those links I can certainly relate. I really enjoy it and its great to be able to put metal where you want it but its hard to make a living at it and is hobby stuff for me. Multi-piece tools constructed from wood and tooling plastics for use with air-set sand are very practical for low volume production and help keep the initial tooling cost in a manageable range but can also require comparatively high labor content to create the molds and require skill levels not often available in foundries. Maybe thats the foundrys prototype shop and is the pre-production phase of the development work for the Funnel Web but most foundries here in the US would otherwise have the guy in those photos managing the work that pays the bills. It also requires care in use of the soft tooling because anything hand packing and all that assembly and disassembly will become damaged by foundry monkeys that dont know how to handle and care for such tooling. Most of the skilled foundrymen here in the US have been starved out of existence by the low cost economies of the world.
As the article states, as a 30 year veteran foundryman, these remarks certainly dont look like they apply to the person doing the work in the photos, but such soft tooling also requires care in use to minimize wear, tear and damage. If properly cared for you could expect hundred(s) (but probably not thousands) of pieces from such tooling. If that is the production tooling for Funnel Webs, its easy to see why they are relatively expensive manifolds.
The one remark that is missing from the discussion about the desire for bringing a 400 4V intake to market is what someone is willing to pay for it? If the expectation is $350 a piece, in 50 piece lots, Id advise anyone considering this to save your time and money unless youre doing it as a community service to you 400 enthusiasts. If market will bear $650-$850 per copy, youre still not going to get rich but its at least conceivable that low volume production could be sustained by someone that is already capitalized to produce and machine low volume castings. Keep in mind, working drawings, machine fixtures, and development work for machining the casting are still to be incurred and then you need to deal with set up time for small lots on the machine shop, and uhhh, the part actually has to perform well if it is to have worth. Where is the development and testing work that makes this a likely outcome? -Its not for the faint of heart and until youve actually been involved with what it takes to conceive, cast, and machine a working part, it can be hard to appreciate.
By way of example, for 50 pieces lots at $350 each you can look forward to $17,500 worth of revenue, but you havent incurred any cost of sales or absorbed any overhead, let alone make a buck. Even if you could net 10% on each lot (and you wont at that price), your reward for all this effort at the end of the day is $1750 each lot you process. Oh yah and do you expect any scrap rate? Whos going to eat that? Do you plan on selling them all direct to the end users? If not, the re-sellers/distributors are going to need to make a buck too further amplifying the end sell price. So besides the effort to develop the part, you need an inexpensive way to promote, distribute, and sell them. Today the internet makes this aspect at least a possibility in low volume endeavors. Not too many years ago you could just forget it. So as youre considering this, start jacking the price and quantity until you can recover your initial outlay of cash and investment of time for development and also make the ongoing endeavor worthwhile.
Not trying to be a nay-sayer, just been there and done it.
I admire and have the utmost respect for those that innovate and persevere through all of this and actually succeed at making a living doing so (even the ones that try but dont), but I just dont think people typically appreciate the level of challenge in doing this in an economically viable manner. -Hats off to entrepreneurs.
- I agree - Miller Mylan on Jun 2, 2012, 2:59 PM